Thoughts on race and their relationship to the outdoors while hiking at Big Basin Redwoods State Park, California 

While hiking at the Big Basin Redwoods State Park, I noticed the demographics of the hikers were mostly 90% whites and 10% Asians. I remembered a podcast I listened to exploring the relationship of race and the outdoors. The National Park Service has reported the lack of diversity in hiking, and when breaking down the numbers, the demographics for their staff mirror the demographics of the visitors, as well as volunteers: 80% whites, 5-6% Hispanics and Blacks, and 2% Asians.

I haven’t worn my hiking boots in a long time. I think the last time I wore them was when I was back here in California hiking at Point Reyes National Seashore. I’m always excited to put them on, thinking of the good times I’ve had on the trails, and hoping for more memorable hiking adventures in the future. It’s a different kind of high when I wear my hiking gears—the joy I feel when I’m outdoors is unparalleled. Fashionistas may disagree but in my opinion, the best OOTD (outfit of the day) is always paired with hiking boots.


My cousin, who is my hiking buddy when I visit California, and I planned to go to Big Basin Redwoods State Park. We tried going there once before but it was closed due to constructions (or something like that) so we ended up hiking at Castle Rock. The drive to Big Basin made me queasy, zig-zagging the narrow two-lane road highway. We also didn’t anticipate a traffic jam on our way up and were surprised to find ourselves in a complete stop. The drivers of about a dozen cars ahead of us were getting out of their vehicles and we wondered why they were taking photos (and selfies) of each other. Then we quickly realized they were all driving high end sport cars (think: Porsches, Ferraris, Bentleys)! Wow what a bunch of spoiled young men in their hundred thousand dollar cars who held up traffic just so they can take selfies of themselves. 🙄

We arrived at the Big Basin later than we had planned. Finding for a parking space was horrendous (the park was really crowded with tourists and locals alike). I noticed that there were a lot of tables for day picnickers and campgrounds for families who want to escape from civilization for a night or two (the park has no internet service and nowadays it is truly a sacrifice not to be able to use the internet…😂).

Our goal was to see at least one waterfall. According to the information center, there are several waterfalls in the area but the best one was the farthest. Since my mom and my cousin’s husband came with us but do not hike, we didn’t want them waiting for us for a long time so we settled for the nearest waterfall.


It was a two mile hike to reach  Senpervirens Falls. While on the trail, I noticed the hikers were mostly Caucasians. I then remembered a podcast I listened to from Code Switch that my older son had shown me a couple of years ago regarding race and their relationship to the outdoors. (Code Switch Team is a team of journalists who mainly discuss race, ethnicity, and culture). According to the director of the NPS (National Park Service), there’s hardly any diversity in hiking, and when breaking down the numbers, the demographics for their staff mirror the demographics of the visitors, as well as volunteers: 80% whites, 5-6% Hispanics and Blacks, and 2% Asians.


The stereotype why black people do not hike traces back from slavery all the way to the Jim Crow period. Black people were forced to work outdoors, tending to fields and livestock. And if they ran away, the woods is where they were tracked down. They were lynched. They went missing. They were murdered. Thus the woods became associated with fear of white violence. And this all affects the way that some black people still think of the outdoors.


Korean-Americans defy the stereotype that only white people hike. In the mountains of Los Angeles, most of the hikers are Koreans, all decked-out with sun visors and, long sleeves (the adversity to the sun for the fear of getting a darker skin among Asians and brown people is a whole new topic). South Korea is a mountainous country, therefore, hiking is a big part of their culture, and has become their national pastime. So when South Koreans emigrated to the United States, they brought hiking with them making nature as their solace in their very different newly adopted country.


On the same day of our hike, white supremacists were protesting in Charlottesville, West Virginia. Many Americans are still shocked that in 2017, they are still dealing with this shit! Sadly, this country has been in denial about racism and now everyone’s so shocked to see a blatant racist occupying the White House. White supremacists have been silenced for decades and this newly elected president have given their voice back.  Americans must again face reality, a reality everyone has denied, buried, and stopped talking about. Unfortunately, racism still exists! How to deal with (or fix) it is a complicated story.


Less than an hour into the hike, we reached the Sempervirens Falls. The waterfall was underwhelming, and I would’ve preferred to hike farther to see a more exciting one, if only my mom and my cousin’s husband weren’t waiting. We watched a couple of guys swimming until someone told them a ranger was on his way and they quickly vacated the area and disappeared. We decided to head back where my cousin’s husband and my mom were patiently waiting for us and ended our hike with a sumptuous picnic.

San Francisco day trip: The historic Point Reyes National Seashore 

One of the most beautiful day trips you could take from San Francisco is to Point Reyes National Seashore. But if you have enough time to spare, I highly recommend to stay a night or two. My flight back to Texas was not until 5pm, therefore, I had enough time to do something in the morning. I was interested to see the Cypress Tree Tunnel ever since I saw it on Instagram. My cousin suggested we can stop there on our way to Point Reyes, then go to the Lighthouse, hoping we can get a glimpse of the whales.


The Cypress Tree tunnel is a row of Monterey Cypress trees that forms a tree tunnel. I expected it to be a long tunnel but it was actually pretty short. Nevertheless, it was still remarkable and awe-inspiring. There were several photographers capturing the beauty of the place especially with the morning rays but I was surprised to find hardly any crowd at all.


After taking several pictures (although I couldn’t really capture the beauty of the tree tunnel through photos since I only use iPhone for photography…maybe someday I’ll use one of those professional cameras lol), we proceeded to the Lighthouse.


But we were met by a ranger and informed us the only access to the Lighthouse is by taking the shuttle bus. The month of March was the best month for whale watching and the Lighthouse offers the best place to do so. We opted not to see the whales at this time since I was concerned with the timing, worried we may not have enough time to travel back to San Francisco to catch my flight.


Point Reyes National Seashore includes coastal beaches and hilly lands. At different vantage points, the view could look as if you’re in Switzerland or New Zealand (depends on your interpretation). We spent a good portion exploring Drakes Beach.



For hiking, you can start from Bear Valley Trail, starting from the visitor’s center (you may do this before or after Drakes Beach and Cypress Tree Tunnel). Across the parking lot at the Visitor’s Center is the Earthquake Trail that runs directly over the San Andreas Fault. I was hoping there won’t be an earthquake that day. 😜


We left the area in the early afternoon, giving us enough time for the Bay Area traffic and also to grab lunch. A half a day was not enough to explore everything there is to see, but the good news is there is always a next time.

Upclose and personal with San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge

I was that troubled water in the song, Bridge Over Troubled Water, but fortunately I’ve been provided with so many bridges in my life to help ease the heartbreak. Because bridges have that profound meaning in my life, I have added something in my bucket list—to cross (on foot) every bridge I come in contact with. You can guess that when I flew to San Francisco, I had one itinerary in mind.

I don’t know about you but when I see a beautiful bridge I get all the feels. I just don’t see a structure providing a path but I see something profoundly more meaningful than that. Bridges symbolize many things.

 For me personally, a bridge symbolizes hope, resilience, and love. I have experienced depression in the past and my anxiety attacks came in different forms. I believe I was (and most likely still am) experiencing post traumatic syndrome disorder (PTSD) after my son’s first cancer diagnosis (and worse especially after the relapse). Besides my son’s distressful journey with cancer, I’ve also dealt with other heartbreaking situations. My anxiety had resulted to too many sleepless nights.  I have reached a point when I thought life wasn’t going to get better, that my happiness will always be limited. I was that troubled water in the song, Bridge Over Troubled Water, but fortunately, I’ve been provided with so many bridges in my life to help me ease my pain.

I have also learned to worry less today, to roll with the punches, and to accept whatever difficult challenges life throws at me.

Because bridges have that profound meaning in my life, I have added something in my bucket list–to cross (on foot) every bridge I come in contact with. You can guess that when I flew to San Francisco, I had one itinerary in mind.

This week was my older son’s spring break. After a 4-day trip to Portland, I decided we’d stay one night in the city before he goes back to Stanford.


From our hotel in Union Square, the best way to get to the Golden Gate bridge was to take an Uber to the Welcome Center Information Center. From there you will get amazing views of the bridge.


Fortunately, it was a weekday and there weren’t too many people on the bridge despite the beautiful weather.

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It only took us over 20 minutes to walk all the way to the end. My watch showed 1.04 miles one way but according to the official record, it’s 0.8 miles (4200 feet). I’m not exactly sure where it officially starts, but I set my watch from the beginning of the paved walkway on the bridge.


I was taking a ton of photos every few steps and my son jokingly told me that all my pictures will eventually look the same. “Just keep walking and enjoy it, mom! Stop taking pictures,” he said.


I was just really excited that I was able to cross my first bridge. I didn’t think today was going to be possible since just the day prior, the weather forecast was showing heavy winds in San Francisco. One more thing, I was also satisfying one of my personal challenges that I’ve been working on this year (by the way, this marks my 5th personal challenge).

 I had a preconceived idea that crossing the bridge was going to be long and challenging. In fact, it was short and easy.  Perhaps just like life, when we’re faced with a difficult challenge, we always perceive it to be more difficult than it seems. But if we are willing to face all the obstacles and not lose hope, it turns out that life really isn’t that bad after all.

A Foodie weekend in San Francisco 

Trying to narrow down the world’s best foodie destinations is no easy feat. I have my own list of favorites and San Francisco is definitely in the top of that list!

Trying to narrow down the world’s best foodie destinations is no easy feat. I have my own list of favorites and San Francisco is definitely one of my favorite foodie cities! When one of my childhood friends notified me she will be arriving in San Francisco from Manila on the same week I’m there, we decided to meet up. Together with another friend who was coming from San Diego (the three of us attended the same all-girls Catholic school in the Philippines), we made a reservation at The Westin St. Francis at Union Square and planned a girls getaway. Taking advantage of San Francisco’s robust food scene, our  itinerary  revolved around its gastronomic culture (because we are all self-declared foodies 😄).

Our hotel

Friday

We first started our dining experience at Yank Sing, one of San Francisco’s most famous dim sum destinations located  at Rincon Center near the Embarcadero. We ordered their usual dim sum specialties such as har gau dumplings, pork siumai, snow pea shoot dumplings, bbq pork buns, stuffed crab claw, and a large pot of hot tea. I’ve been to many dim sum restaurants all over the world and I have to agree that Yank Sing is one of the best I’ve had. However, critics (including my friends) usually grumble at two things: the price and its authenticity. Though prices are high, the quality is what you pay for. It’s considered ‘Americanized’ only because it is rather upscale, in a white-tablecloth setting, certainly different from the usual dim sum atmosphere you’d find in Chinatown. With all the five dishes we chose, we ordered the har gau and the siumai twice and the bill came up to over a hundred dollars, including tip. So be prepared to roll out those hundred dollar bills, especially if you are with a large crowd. Definitely not for everyone’s budget.


We headed towards Union Square, wanting to burn off the calories from our lunch and hoping to leave space for tonight’s dinner. We took a ton of pictures, just like the tourists, we also took photos at several touristy spots!

That’s me on the left 😉
The (sweet) Hearts in San Francisco


These heart sculptures are displayed in several locations throughout the city and each is a creation by different artists and they were intended for the  Hearts in San Francisco, an annual public art exhibit started by San Francisco General Hospital Foundation for the purpose of fundraising. The sculptures are auctioned each year and proceeds go to research and vital programs at the hospital. By the way, this was inspired by Tony Bennett’s song, “I Left My Heart In San Francisco” (my sentiments exactly each time I leave San Francisco).

In the evening, we dined at B44 at Belden Place, a narrow pedestrian-only alley located roughly between Chinatown and the Financial District. Belden Place serves as the hub of the city’s small French American community. B44 is a Spanish restaurant specializing in Catalan cuisine.


We ordered paella, and several tapas (gambas, grilled morcilla sausage, roasted chorizo, mussels, scallops and shrimp with romesco sauce),and a pitcher of Sangria. We thought the prices were reasonable, however,  I didn’t think the food was exceptional but it surely satisfied our cravings.

Saturday

If there’s one thing that San Francisco has it down, that would be breakfast and brunch. But if you’re like me,  who do not believe that breakfast is the king of meals and rather content with just coffee or tea in the morning, there’s Starbucks in about every corner in the city. Today, we planned to do a walking food tour, a guided eating tour of North Beach, the Italian district in San Francisco. My friend found a Groupon deals with Sidewalk Food Tours for about $45 each.

North Beach is the Little Italy of San Francisco. Similar to New York, the location borders Chinatown. But unlike New York where Chinatown has pretty much overran the Italian side, North Beach, in my opinion, still has kept its place and character, despite the overpowering Chinatown next to it. But to reach the Italian side, you must of course navigate your way through Chinatown.


The tour’s meeting place was at Cafe Trieste. There were over a dozen participants and our guide spoke to us about what to expect from the tour.

We went to five different establishments (two were dessert places), a couple of them had a reserved table for us, and the others were either standing or searching for a vacant table somewhere. The whole tour lasted about 2 1/2 hours.


Our top pick from the five restaurants was a sandwich from Molinari, an Italian delicatessen. The sandwich had salami, roasted peppers, olives, and mozzarella cheese (made in house).

Sampling of the foods we had from the different restaurants

The other restaurants were not as memorable but we did like the truffle shop they took us to.

We wanted to spend our last evening together at a trendy, up-and-coming dining spot. We chose to celebrate our successful girls weekend at SF MOMA’s (Museum of Modern Art) flagship restaurant and currently one of the  hottest restaurants in the city, In Situ. The restaurant opened in June, in a space off the lobby inside the museum. The concept of In Situ is to bring the world’s best dishes to San Francisco. Corey Lee, the three-Michelin-star chef, replicates some of the iconic dishes cooked up by renowned chefs from all over the world. None of the dishes in the menu is originally his own. Thus Lee’s vision offers diners the opportunity to try dishes that may not be normally  accessible to everyone, a damn genius concept. There is no need to jetset around the globe searching for some of those Michelin starred dishes, instead they are now found in one place.


My dinner was accompanied with Schönram pilsner from Salzburg, Germany. For starter, I ordered Shrimp Grits, inspired from WD~50 restaurant in New York City by chef Wylie Dufresne. The shrimp was grounded to have a grits like consistency. For those of you who aren’t familiar with grits, it’s a Southern type of porridge made from corn ground into a coarse meal then boiled.

With this dish, the grits are shrimp, not from corn. I don’t like the consistency of grits but this was delicious.

For my next order, I had the Spicy Pork Sausage & Rice Cakes, a David Chang inspired dish from his Momofuku Ssam Bar in New York City. It was way too salty and the rice cake had a weird consistency. For $22 this was not worthy of the price.


We all tasted each other’s dishes. Shown below is The Forest, a quinoa risotto with mushrooms and parsley, a Mauro Coagreco inspired dish from the restaurant Mirazur in Menton, France.


My friend ordered the Liberty Duck Breast with French green lentils and apples, with an aged red wine vinegar sauce. This was inspired from the famous chef Tomas Keller from his award-winning restaurant, The French Laundry. I didn’t get to taste it because I don’t eat duck.

Here are some of the dishes we all sampled:

Octopus and the Coral, braised octopus and seaweed by chef Virgilio Martinez from the restaurant Central in Lima, Peru
Glazed Chicken Thigh, onsen egg, lettuce, sansho, teriyaki by chef Hiroshi Sasaki from the restaurant Gion Sasaki in Kyoto, Japan
My favorite of them all; Wasabi Lobster, mango jelly, thai vinaigrette, wasabi marshmallow by chef Tim Raue from the restaurant Tim Raue in Berlin, Germany

 

This is a dessert called Interpretation of Vanity, moist chocolate cake, cold almond cream, bubbles and cocoa by chef Andoni Luis Aduriz from the restaurant Mugaritz in Errenteria, Spain

Sunday

It was time for me to leave so I packed my bags, took an uber ride to SanFrancisco Int’l Airort, and a few hours later, I was back to reality! That’s it folks as you can see I left my heart stomach in San Francisco. But I will be back…..

“Huh! You like modern art?” @SFMOMA (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art)


I’ve never been a modern art enthusiast. I never understood how a chair with a sculpted hand on top of it is called “art” (just like the photo below from the Rhode Island School of Design). Since it’s a non-conformist, non-traditional type of art, I find it a bit pretentious. That’s just my opinion but I am not an artist so what do I know right? However, I have the appreciation and admiration for beauty (at least I think I do!)

This is an artist’s interpretation of art…I just don’t get it!

While I was in California a few weeks ago, I wanted to check out the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco. The reviews for this newly refurbished museum were overwhelmingly positive. Besides, I wanted to see a Frida Kahlo painting. That’s not the only reason I was excited to visit SFMOMA. I was also intrigued at the museum’s restaurants (a wanna-be foodie that I am, food always rules my world!)

From Fremont, I took the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) early morning to downtown San Francisco. I wanted to arrive at the museum as soon as it opens at 10am. FYI, I bought my entrance ticket online so I can skip the lines when I get there. The general admission price for an adult is $25. I arrived 15 minutes early and it gave me a little time to browse at the gift shop (one of my favorite places to browse is a museum store). My heart skipped a beat when I saw all the beautiful notebooks on display! If you knew me well, I’m completely obsessed with notebooks and journals. In fact, I even wrote a blog about this obsession.  

I was immediately attracted to this one. “They should tell you when you’re born: have a suitcase heart, be ready to travel.” -Gabrielle Zevin


When the museum opened, I showed my printed out tickets and I was immediately directed to the elevators. I decided to start at the highest floor (seventh) and work my way down to the first. 

As soon as the elevator opened, I already sensed I was going to enjoy being there. I made sure I saw every art in every corner in each floor and since I was there early, it wasn’t crowded yet. I pretty much had the whole floor to myself. 

Let me share  some of the paintings,  photographs, and artwork that caught my eyes. 

Do you recognize who this girl is in the photograph? Brooke Shields when she was 10 years old! In 1983, Richard Prince rephotographed an image of a prepubescent Brooke Shields and titled it Spiritual America. I was flabbergasted to read this was taken with her mother’s consent. I’m not a very prude person but you have to draw a line somewhere especially when children are concerned. The contrast is especially astounding between her young body and her very mature, adult-like face. 


Perusing the pictures from reviews on Yelp or TripAdvisor about SFMOMA, I saw many photos of this police officer. So when I saw him at the museum, I wanted to talk to him to let him know he’s quite a popular guy. As I got closer I was very surprised to find out he’s not human! 


The details to make him look real is simply astonishing. Just look at the veins on his arm. It’s amazing!


Nicknamed as the gay capital of the world, San Francisco’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community is one of the largest and most prominent among LGBT communities. Hence I’m not surprised to see a painting of two men as a couple. The story behind this painting is quite interesting. Alice Neel, the artist, met the two men (both artists themselves) one evening and invited them to her apartment the next day to paint their portraits as a couple. She asked them to wear the same clothes from the night before and positioned them as they had been sitting. They sat without moving while she was painting until she said it was ok for them to take a break. 


Of course the main reason I went to SF MOMA was to see a Frida Kahlo painting. I was disappointed to find only one  painting. Frida painted the  “Frieda and Diego Rivera” for a friend while visiting in San Francisco in April of 1931. Its interesting that it’s still in San Francisco after more than 80 years. 

It was time for lunch and I was excited to try the foods at Cafe 5. My friends and I planned to eat dinner at In Situ in a few days, one of San Francisco’s hottest restaurants right now which is located in the museum’s first floor. By myself, Cafe 5 was the place  to be. I love the simple yet bright and airy ambience of the cafe. It also extends outside for outdoor seating,  surrounded by skyscrapers. 


I ordered the Chicken Banh Mi. If you’re expecting anything authentic or even close to a Vietnamese banh mi, you will be disappointed. But this was delicious, a thick chicken breast fried in perfection on a brioche with  pickled veggies. 


After lunch I had more time to explore the museum and found the Sculpture Terrace. 


Also, what’s a modern art museum without Andy Warhol exhibits? 


I abhor taking selfies in public  so I asked other people to take my photos next to the artwork I thought were pretty “cool”. One of them didn’t understand why I wouldn’t face the camera. I told him it really wasn’t about me and besides it’ll ruin the picture! 🙂


I have to be honest, I didn’t understand what each of these artwork meant or represented, but I was drawn to their simplicity. Even when it was busy, the work still felt minimal. 

I took a tea break at Sight Glass coffee shop. I was savoring my time alone while  people watching. Some were busy having great conversations, others were busy working with their laptops, and a few were by themselves, staring at space seemingly  lost in their thoughts. 


My phone rang and it was my husband calling from Texas. He asked where I was and I told him I’ve been at the museum. It was now close to 3pm and I realized I had spent almost entirely the whole day there. However, the time went by fast, it really didn’t seem that long. 

Surprised by my enthusiasm he asked, “Huh?! You enjoy modern art?” I giggled. “Yes. It seems that way,” I replied. It’s one of those unexpected self-discoveries, one more thing I learned about myself. 

California dreaming: Stanford University

Stanford had me at hello! The dramatic entryway was by far the grandest of all the college campuses I’ve seen. The rows of palm trees on both sides of the street were so stunning, I was speechless. The only word I could utter was, “WOW!”

photo courtesy of Stanford University website
beautiful corridors inside the university

Despite its extensive growth, and with the endless addition of new buildings, Stanford has retained its original design and architecture, reminiscent of early California Mission Revival. The campus has that romantic feel, especially with its Spanish red-tile roofs and countless areas of greenery.
My son was one of the fortunate ones to be accepted at Stanford this year. The admit rate for 2016 had been the lowest so far at 4.69%. When we were there, I knew in my heart that it was the right college for him. Although he had previusly fallen in love with Brown University during his visit the week prior, my maternal instincts suggested Stanford was going to be a better fit.

My husband and I were thinking of subtle ways to convince him to choose Stanford over Brown. Most of our family and friends were also rooting for him to go there. On his first night at Stanford, I sent him a text message asking how everything was going so far. “Good,” he replied curtly.  There were no other mention about his activities. The next day I received a text from him:”I think I’m allergic to Stanford.” He was, in fact, miserable with allergies and nothing was helping. Not even his daily dose of Zyrtec and additional Benadryl.



I was worried. His Brown experience seemed much more appealing—he spoke with great enthusiasm about the classes he sat in and the people he met over there. And in no way that reaction echoed at Stanford.

I called my husband to tell him to get used to the idea of flying to the east coast for the next few years. Based on his texts, I knew he wasn’t excited about Stanford. As much as we want him to be in the west coast, his happiness was still our priority. I mentally prepared myself and imagined future vacations to Rhode Island. “I liked it there…it’ll be ok,” I convinced myself. Then I started to visualize snow and below freezing temps!  I pictured  my son all bundled up, freezing his ass off in those dark and miserably cold New England winters. I felt sorry for him having to experience that over the next four years!

the prep rally welcoming incoming freshmen

When I picked him up on the last day of the admit weekend and on our way to the airport, I nervously asked him if he had made up his mind. To my surprise, he said “no, still undecided.” At the airport, we saw some of the high school seniors from Texas who were on the same flight as us. Everyone I talked to were already committed to Stanford. My son was the only exception.

most of the students ride the bike in the campus

The next two days after coming home have been the hardest couple of days in his life. Deciding on where he would go to college became so stressful and emotional for all of us. I could’ve just insisted on Stanford but I also wouldn’t want him to resent me later. The decision had to be his alone. There were only three hours left on May 2nd to choose between the two schools. We assured him we would support his decision and left him to be by himself. We then crossed our fingers hoping he makes the right one.

Click here to read my son’s version of the story and where he would be a part of Class 2020!

Big thumbs up: why I “Like” the Facebook campus!

I’ve always wondered what it would be like to work for Facebook. I have always admired Mark Zuckerberg and applauded his desire to make the world a better place. I even admire his (lack of) fashion sense. 


When my friend who works for Facebook invited me to visit her there, I had to include it in my itinerary despite my very short trip to the Bay Area. My son and I were in California for another college admit week. This time it was at Stanford. 


 I didn’t realize how enormous the campus is. I had imagined it with just one building but it had several buildings that expand to more across the street. It was like a small village. 

I also noticed all the blue bicycles that employees use for transportation within the Facebook grounds. I was really excited to be there and I was hoping I’d bump into Mark Zuckerberg and take a selfie with him (haha)! 


My friend met us where we signed in by the iPad station. She brought us to the main cafeteria for breakfast. They had an impressive spread of breakfast foods, smoothies, juices, breads, and more—free of charge—for the employees and their guests! What a treat! After breakfast, she took us for a tour to see the main street that was modeled after downtown Palo Alto. I looked everywhere hoping to find the guy in a gray shirt but there was no sign of him. 

My friend showed us the different restaurants within the campus (the employees have different choices where to dine everyday, also free of charge for them!). 


There’s also a coffee shop, a barber shop, and a gym that they can use during or after work hours. I would’ve been ecstatic if I had the chance to try out the organic cafe, Harvest, a farm-to-table type of place. When my son wanted to drink water, my friend showed him what seemed like a vending machine except you didn’t need to pay for anything because you can just open it and take whatever drink you want. 


Mark Zuckerberg is obviously a philanthropist at heart and on the day we were there, they were celebrating Global Causes Day, a day when Facebook employees give their time to support the causes they care about. 
 

I was excited to see Partners in Health on the board. Dr. Paul Farmer, the co-founder for this wonderful organization that started in Haiti, is one of my heroes. If you are interested to find out more about him, you might want to read Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World by Tracy Kidder. 


Of course, the tour wouldn’t be complete without going to the Facebook gift shop. My friend gave my younger son a few months back a shirt that everyone absolutely loved! It had this quote written on the shirt “pretty like daddy, smart like mommy.” Every mom who saw the shirt wanted it, but unfortunately it can only be found at the Facebook store. I wanted to get another one in a bigger size but it only went up to size 10 for kids. I did like the #BeTheNerd shirt, however, my son may not! 😄

I didn’t get to see one of my most admired people on earth, but I was content to be physically there, the company he built to bring one and a half billion people worldwide closer. Thanks to Facebook I get to “see” my family and friends who are thousands of miles away from me. The world is no longer a big place because of it. 

Thank you, Mark Zuckerberg! Hopefully I’ll get to meet you someday!